Writing Can be a Lonely Business: the writing process & a Poem from a sentence prompt - Jodah's Challenge
Jodah, aka John Hansen, set a challenge to write from a random sentence pulled from any text. Each word of that sentence, in order, has to start each sentence in your own story or poem.
You can find the hub setting out the challenge by clicking on http://jodah.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Construct-a-Short-Story-Using-One-Sentence-as-a-Prompt
This is an interesting idea, a challenge which, though simple, is by no means easy. So thanks to John for giving us another spur to take a stroll outside our comfort zone.
A Writer's Essential
The Source of my Sentence
My sentence prompt comes from the ‘Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2015’ published by www.bloomsbury.com ISBN 978-1-4081-9245-0. Go to www.writersandartists.co.uk for further details. Susan Hill, author of ‘The Woman in Black’ calls it ‘the Writers’ Bible’.
I was given the latest edition of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook for Christmas and was checking out their short story competition. Flicking through it, I stopped at a random page and this sentence, below right, caught my eye.
My Sentence Prompt
A Lonely Business
It’s a true statement. By definition, writing has to be lonely. You need to sit down, usually at a desk in a separate room, without distractions. Your own words have to appear as if by magic from your brain. No-one else can write for you and you wouldn’t want them to.
You can draw inspiration from others’ words, from a picture, a photo, an event, nature, a person, a building or, as in this instance, from someone’s innovative idea. Even then, it’s often not easy. If you find it difficult to come up with something new, something fresh or a new approach, then your writer’s block can only be broken down, eventually, by you. If you use others’ work you are a plagiarist. If you give up, then you may as well find another pastime or career.
Research & InspirationClick thumbnail to view full-size
Hope - Research
However, there is hope! Follow the advice of my chosen sentence and don’t work in a vacuum. Of course your writing has to come from you alone but that doesn’t mean you cut yourself off from the world for ever.
Research is vital for writing. Good research means:
- going out and about, discovering the life around you,
- observing your environment, be it town or country,
- looking up, down, left and right, taking in every detail of what you see,
- making notes,
- taking photos,
- recording conversations,
- jotting down ideas (no one can remember everything that comes along in a day),
- talking to people from all walks of life, all trades and professions,
- marketing your work to as many as possible, personally.
Use what's available
Even if you’re physically alone, you have the internet to make you feel part of a community, to give you advice, to act as a huge pool of information from which to draw. You can chat with people, face to face or via the net, or you can read relevant text that might help you.
Then, of course, you can ask others to read your work, give you an honest opinion, give constructive criticism (be selective about whom you ask to do this; a trusted friend is a good start). You can join writing groups where you can discuss ideas, learn from others, get support and inspiration.
Then you're Ready - Warm & Cosy with Plenty of Ideas
When you get back to your room you are much better equipped to begin writing. You don’t feel alone, even if you are physically isolated, because you have all that background, research, friendship and support on which to draw.
So, don’t work in a vacuum! Work in a cosy, warm room with all your writing materials, notes and favourite things around you. Time will go quickly if you’re totally absorbed in your work. Then you’ve earned a break, a cup of coffee, some contact with the outside world, before you go back to your little cocoon to write your best-seller.
Response to a Challenge
Right! Enough of that, let’s get down to the main purpose of this piece. Since John (Jodah) likes poetry, I’m going to write a poem. To remind you, it’s based on
‘Writing can be a lonely business - don’t work in a vacuum.’
Examples of Writing
Writing is a Funny Thing
Writing is a funny thing
when you find that you can fling
caution to the wind and sing
that great story, stretch your wings.
Can it be that you’re successful,
at the end of all those terrible
days and nights when you feel awful,
thinking all you’ve written is waffle?
Be courageous, set your sights,
target high roads, know your rights,
making sure that all your fights
bear close scrutiny from bright lights.
A bounty can be yours to keep
if you can take, with faith, that leap
into the unknown, into the deep,
to authorship, rewards to reap.
Lonely it can be some days
but you find that, through the haze,
comes an idea to amaze;
thus you feel the warm sun’s rays.
Business booms, you’re recognised
when that book attains the prize
from those friendly publisher guys -
careful, though, it’s no disguise!
Don’t expect it to continue
if you stop because, I bet you,
writing no more than a few
masterpieces just won’t do!
Work and work and work some more,
keep on phoning, bang that door,
reach for the skies, scrape that floor,
for then you’ll hear your public roar.
In a moment of distress
don’t give up, don’t let that mess
drag you low down, feeling less
than confident of your success.
A little break, a walk, fresh air
is what’s needed, throw your cares
to the breezes, even dare
to dance or sing and watch them stare.
Vacuum-packed is not for you,
so you needn’t ditch the view
of the world outside, a clue -
go with what’s inside of YOU!